Saturday, September 23, 2006

Greetings from another blogger!

Thanks so much to the gals here for letting me in on this fantastic blog opportunity! It’s great to be in such good company.

It’s funny...I started “officially” writing YA in March of 2005, but I realized last weekend when I was cleaning out some of my old writing files (okay, trying to organize and make room for the Bowflex we bought!), I found the first completed manuscript I wrote in 2001. It’s 863 pages (yes, you’re reading that correctly) and it’s called FOOTPRINTS ON MY HEART about a woman reminiscing about her senior year of high school in 1985. My heroine was Rowan Webster (I still love Rowan) and even though she was a senior, she was totally in love with this adorable freshman guy, Sean Layton. However, she surprisingly ends up with his older brother, Joel.

The story was written before I knew any “rules” of writing, before I knew there were writing “genres,” before I understood GMC (goal, motivation, conflict for you non-writers) or POV (point-of-view) or any other three letter acronyms. It was written in first person past tense and was horrendously long. I was writing YA, though, and didn’t even know it. The voice, the tone, the situation, the messages. But I love the story and cherish the manuscript because it’s what got me writing. Sure, it took a year to get it done, but I did it – and I kept writing. Eleven full manuscripts and two partials later, I have a wonderful four-book series coming out in the Spring of 2008.

What fascinated me so much about FOOTPRINTS and Rowan’s struggles is the universality of it. Even back in 1985 (which is literally a lifetime ago for today’s YA readers), the issues of being a teen are the same:

1. Crushes on cute boys
2. Seeking freedom/needing a car
3. Fitting in/popularity
4. Concern over your looks/appearance/weight
5. Looking towards your future/college
6. Homework/studying
7. School activities
8. Hanging with your close friends
9. Drinking/Not to Drink debate
10. Dealing with your parents

Rowan goes through all of these things in her journey, as do most of the heroines I read about in YA books today. It’s all part of growing up, though...of being a teen and that lovely right of passage that’s all about. It’s the memories we form early on in life that mold us in our adulthood and make us the person we are.

One of my favorite scenes in FOOTPRINTS is when Rowan’s on Spring Break in Florida with all of her friends. They’ve been drinking beer (as college seniors on break in Florida do) and she suddenly realizes she’s put all this effort and time and heartache into getting Sean to like her when right there in front of her is Joel, his brother – her age – who totally gets her. When he kisses her for the first time and everything becomes clear to her, it’s a warm fuzzy moment for me as a reader (forget that I even wrote it!) It was that “big scene” I had been writing towards and that scene that made all of my own memories roll into place. Too bad the book will never come out of that writing box again. LOL!!

What are some teen stories that have triggered warm memories for you? Or teen movies? Do you agree that teen problems are universal, no matter the decade? What has left footprints on your heart?

Until next Saturday...

Marley = )


Dona Sarkar-Mishra said...

Hey, I like the concept of FOOTPRINTS Marley! Who says you can't dust it off, polish it up and see what you can do with old Rowan? After all Janet Evanvich's first few books are going like hotcakes now!

I love that you're with us on this loop now. Yay!

stephhale said...

Great post, Marley. I agree that teens have the same problems universally. I do think today's teens have had to mature more quickly though, what with terrorism, school shootings, and just technology in general. Sometimes I feel bad for them b/c I don't think they get to be innocent really as long as we did.
My favorite teen movies are Breakfast club, 16 candles, & can't buy me love. I'm always surprised to see so many of these same movies listed as favs on the younguns myspace pages, it's nice though! :)

Anonymous said...

I really like your blog. Your story sounds really cool. I love when a story reminds me of nice memories of my own. Best teen movies are What a Girl Wants and Mean Girls and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. But then I like Lindsey Lohan. Do any of you see her playing a part in any of your books?

Young Adult Authors said...

Wow, Marley. That WAS a long book. :) Good for you for taking a look at where you've been.

There are a lot of universal themes still running through teen fiction and movies. Usually, I'm touched by the standing up for who you are/self-acceptance stories. Not a stretch that I seem to write those myself.

I always loved Sixteen Candles -- because no one is really who you think they are, you know? Lately though, I loved Can't Hardly Wait. I love it when people are stripped down and forced to see who they are on the inside. See --two movies decades apart and they have the same theme!

Welcome aboard, Marley. May your posts always be as thought provoking. :)

stephhale said...

Hey Michelle~

I loved Lindsey in Mean Girls. That movie is such an inspiration to my writing. Lindsey, not so much anymore.


Diana Peterfreund said...

Oh, dona, it's been's a good story, but I think the stuff marley's writing now knocks it out of the park!

My fave teen movies are:
Dirty Dancing
Back to the Future
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead
Bring it On
The Lost Boys
The Breakfast Club

Yes, I have eclectic taste.

(Expand it to college movies and I'll aff Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, PCU, Animal House, Legally Blonde, and now, Accepted)

Anonymous said...

This is random, but I love the name Rowan for a girl. It's my number one 'don't use this for a character because you might some day want to use it for a kid' name, so reading about your Rowan just made me smile.